Archive for May, 2009

What Climate Change Behaviors Do We Want to See?

Monday, May 4th, 2009

Influencer by Patterson, et al, examines how important change is effected. For those of us working on climate change, do we want to educate? Or change behaviors? or both?

The book Influencer gives a number of other examples at the personal, company, and societal level:

Dr. Wiwat Rojanapithayakorn (pdf) worked with Thai sex workers to require clients use condoms (see World Health Organization description of this and other HIV programs).
Delancey Street Project focuses on reversing the code of the street, “Care only about yourself, and don’t rat on anyone.” Almost immediately, residents take responsibility for someone else, and confront everyone else about violations.
• The Carter Center found the Guinea worm disease could be eliminated in afflicted communities by straining water collected at the local water supply.

Notice that these are behaviors, not outcomes (eat less than you metabolize is an outcome, eschew sweets a behavior). The influencers identified a small number of vital behaviors which could effect the change.

My own personal experience offers an example: One person’s goal was to shift people’s relationship with the then-Soviet Union, away from seeing Soviets as the enemy and towards a more complicated connection to the people and their motivations, towards the kind of complexity we see in people we know better. To accomplish this, she found ways to humanize stories, good and bad, about this area of the world—showing slides while she told the stories, passing around objects made there. People connect differently when holding an object the other has made.

I was part of the first group she took to visit Russia and other areas. We all agreed to give a slide show about our visit, at least once, and pass around objects made in areas we visited. (She still had some more work to do, or many of us would not have followed through.)

These activities—give slide show, pass around object—were the behaviors she wanted from us, and clearer than “share our experiences”. She wanted the public to handle objects, see pictures, and hear stories.

Climate change workers, what do you hope to accomplish? What do you want those in your reading/speaking audience to do? List two or three vital behaviors you’d like to change in people at your presentations/who read what you have to say. What strategies do you use to change vital behaviors? What types of resistance have you met? What tells you that you have been successful? What part is played by your follow-through?

Swine Flu Coverage on AAAS Blog

Monday, May 4th, 2009

The American Association for the Advancement of Science blog ScienceInsider is covering swine flu in great detail.

They discuss WHO’S response, and give swine flu mug shots (the virus not the people). They point out that it takes a while to find the origin of disease—three years after HIV/SARS was found in gay Americans, the origin was found in heterosexuals on a different continent.